Can you impress John Doe with Turntablism?

February 12th, 2009

The term “Turntablism” was introduced in the mid ’90s by DJ Babu, to separate the DJs who just mix transitions from those who took the art of DJing a lot further.

In an effort to beat their competitors the artists of this genre have developed their skills to a degree that is impressive, but unfortunately in many cases not very nice to listen to. So the question is: How much turntablism can you cope with as a non-turntablist?

The most dominant techniques in turntablism are scratching and beat juggling. These two techniques have been elevated to a very technical level since the early 90′s. Nowadays it’s sometimes hard to still recognize a rythym in a scratch or beat juggling routine. A normal listener who is not into Hip-Hop, DJing or Turntablizm will not akknowledge the complexity of a trick if it doesn’t sound good.

I have played some simple beat juggling routines to non-Hip-Hop friends of mine, which usually resulted in positive feedback. I have also shown some complex routines to my mates, with a less positive result. If you take DJ Babu’s Blind Alley beat juggling routine as an example you’ll understand what I mean. The routine is bloody hard to do and definitely on the edge of what’s possible with two turntables and a mixer. As a matter of fact, there are noticeable inconsistencies when performing it – little delays etc. I look at myself as a semi-pro turntablist and to me, this routine is awesome as hell. But to someone who doesn’t understand how much effort and skill it takes to do it, a lot of it just sounds wrong.

Someone who – to me anyway – has achieved to make his routines sound almost perfect more often than other turntablists, is DJ Craze. Check out the clip of one of his best routines at the bottom of this post.

Many DJs seem to think that turntablism doesn’t work in a club. I disagree, because I have seen it work. I guess the secret of making a beat juggling routine decent sounding and suitable for a club, is to keep it simple and not push it to the technical limits.

Looking forward to any comments and different opinions on this one.

Time for some DJ Craze…


Group: hip hop video clips, turntablism

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